I love it when a book surprises me. I picked this book up at ALA because I love hearing voices in books that I haven't heard before, and this book deaI love it when a book surprises me. I picked this book up at ALA because I love hearing voices in books that I haven't heard before, and this book deals with an undocumented immigrant--Monserrat Thalia, whose family is from Argentina but who is blonde and pale and goes by M.T., hiding the truth from all her friends in her well-to-do New Jersey town.
But let's face it, I went to ALA and BEA this year and out of the 50+ books I came home with, this one wasn't the most glamorous-looking in the pile. I started reading it because it was sitting nearby when I had an idle moment.
I liked the beginning. Picked it up again the next day. By about 100 pages in I could hardly put it down. Loooooved this book. Loved M. T. I loved her cute first boyfriend, and her well-rounded life, and how true it felt even thought we have very different lives. I connected with her so much that when she finally talks to someone and breaks down, *I* started crying with her.
This book would also be a fantastic read paired with a discussion of immigration. I'm pro-immigration, but I also don't think about it that much. Building compassion is part of the great power of story, and this one is a wonderful example. It's not preachy, it just IS, and apparently draws a lot from the author's own experience...and that also makes it very powerful and thought-provoking.
This book deals with a LOT of issues, not just immigration but also domestic abuse and contemplation of suicide. Sometimes I was reminded of Eleanor and Park in the domestic abuse aspect paired with the cute first love and the fact that she doesn't want to tell anyone what's going on. One thing I liked is that, while the issues felt well-handled and real, the book overall didn't feel grim or heavy. A lot of people in this book are kind to M. T. and some of them surprise her, so there is also a sort of underlying message about how all people have a hidden side and there are many good people in the world. I loved that.
This book reminded me of Eva Ibbotson's YA such as The Morning Gift crossed with Downton Abbey, if Downton was a mistaken identities romantic comedy iThis book reminded me of Eva Ibbotson's YA such as The Morning Gift crossed with Downton Abbey, if Downton was a mistaken identities romantic comedy instead of a soap opera.
The plot requires a certain suspension of disbelief that people can mistake a totally different man or woman for the person they love, just because it's dark. If believability is important to you, you probably want to pass. But look, it's a romantic comedy and all I really want from a book like that is to love the characters, be well entertained and delighted and turn the pages quickly. This book succeeded for me on that level very well.
Hannah is German, the daughter of a Jewish cabaret owner and an English woman, so when World War 2 breaks out, her family sends her to safety in England. It's really refreshing to see Germany portrayed in a light besides oppressor/oppressed war stories. Sure, Hannah worries over the safety of her family back in Germany but she is also a very fun character who believably charms everyone, very reminiscent of an Eva Ibbotson heroine.
This book has a whiff of scandalous matters in places, which seemed oh-so-faithful to the era, that breezy wink-wink treatment of sex typical of 1930s novels. I feel like Laura Sullivan must have read a lot of them to capture the feel this well and I think she did a great job of replicating the atmosphere of 1930s Europe.
Take this book on your next airplane or train trip and the time will fly....more
An inventive and gripping debut! I was lucky enough to pick this up at ALA Midwinter and it was one of the first books I started reading. I was instanAn inventive and gripping debut! I was lucky enough to pick this up at ALA Midwinter and it was one of the first books I started reading. I was instantly intrigued by the concept of Nolan seeing another world whether he blinks.
One thing I feel Corinne did so well was conveying both the wonder AND the alienation and trauma of having an ability like this. In that, it brought to mind, of all things, The Time-Traveler's Wife. In the real world, everyone around Nolan thinks he's having seizures and hallucinations. As the story opens we even find out he's lost a foot/leg because of blacking out. I felt instant sympathy for him, but at the same time, when he wasn't able to travel to the Dunelands for a time and the real world paled in comparison, I understood that too. Probably everyone who has ever gotten deeply lost in a fantasy world of their own making can understand this plight a little bit.
By the way, do you want more diversity in fiction? Well, I order you to buy this. It has disabilities, multiple ethnicities and skin colors, and girls in love, and none of it feels poorly researched or crammed in just for the heck of it. Plus, this book passes my own private test with flying colors: all that diversity adds to the book, but it would STILL BE INTERESTING even if you stripped it all away. Corinne isn't just using these aspects of the characters to add exoticism or angst.
What I also loved about this book was that it was very different. It really tried a lot of things I've never seen before, which made it a great ride that had me constantly wondering "What's next?" The unique world-building did confuse occasionally. I struggled a little to understand how the magic worked, and as the book gets to the climax there is a lot of body-switching and a lot of characters and it's a little head-twisting. But, even if I get a little lost I'd much rather an author try something different. Heck, it gives me an excuse to re-read the book later. Plus, I might have been reading kind of fast because I wanted to know what happened...
The writing style itself feels kind of classic, like the books I read as a fantasy-devouring teen. And I mean that in the best way. I can't wait to see what's next for this author. ...more
Laurel Snyder is one of my favorite middle grade writers, and this one doesn't disappoint.
A fun book with time-traveling and 1930s Baltimore and an olLaurel Snyder is one of my favorite middle grade writers, and this one doesn't disappoint.
A fun book with time-traveling and 1930s Baltimore and an old hotel, laden with fabulous little historical details, and then a great emotional punch at the end that's like, "Oh, you thought this book was just fun? Well, you're also going to REMEMBER IT." ...more
Bummed I didn't read V. C. Andrews as a teen. This was the perfect unsettling gothic trashy puberty-hormones creepiness book. I read because of RobinBummed I didn't read V. C. Andrews as a teen. This was the perfect unsettling gothic trashy puberty-hormones creepiness book. I read because of Robin Wasserman's fascinating interview with V. C. Andrews' editor in The Toast. http://the-toast.net/2013/08/12/inter...